Death toll from coronavirus in Italy rises to 148: Live updates

The country reported the highest number of deaths outside of China, as world steps up efforts to tackle COVID-19.

Italy reported 41 new deaths from coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 148, the second highest outside of China, where just over 3,000 people have died since the outbreak began in December. 

The virus has reached all 22 regions of Italy, and prompted Rome to take unprecedented measures, including suspending all schools and universities and unveiling an $8.4-billion rescue plan. 

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom reported its first death from coronavirus on Thursday, an elderly person with underlying health conditions, while Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and South Africa reported their first cases. 

In the United States, Congress has voted for a $8.3bn emergency funding package to fight the coronavirus as the death toll rose to 11.  


  • Timeline: How China’s new coronavirus spread

  • Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?

  • What happens if you catch the new coronavirus?

Globally, more than 95,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the vast majority in China.

This is Joseph Stepansky taking over from Mersiha Gadzo in Doha.

Here are all the latest updates.

Click here for Friday, March 6 updates

Thursday, March 5

20 GMT – Palestinian gov’t confirms seven virus cases, declares two-week tourist ban

The Palestinian government confirmed the number of coronavirus cases in the occupied West Bank had risen to seven and declared a two-week ban on tourists visiting cities and sites including Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

The health ministry said the cases had been confirmed in the Bethlehem area south of Jerusalem.

“They are now being treated in quarantine,” a statement from minister Mai al-Kaila said.

19:55 GMT – VP: US does not have coronavirus tests to meet anticipated demand

The US does not yet have enough coronavirus tests to meet anticipated demand, Vice President Mike Pence has said, adding that the Coast Guard has delivered tests to a cruise ship off the coast of California.

“We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate the demand going forward,” Pence said during a visit to Minnesota.

“As more Americans take an interest in this or have concerns about this, we want to make sure they have access to the coronavirus test as well and we’ve made real progress on that in the last several days.”

19:50 GMT – Paris marathon postponed due to coronavirus

The Paris marathon has been postponed from April 5 to October 18 due to the coronavirus outbreak, organisers said on Thursday.

“In order to avoid a late cancellation that would penalise the participants, we have, in agreement with the Paris mayor’s office, decided to postpone the Paris marathon to Oct. 18,” Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) said in a statement.

19:20 GMT – US Congress passes $8.3bn emergency funding for coronavirus fight

The US Congress has passed an $8.3bn emergency spending bill to address the coronavirus crisis as infections spread to at least 14 states and deaths reached 11.

The Senate gave sweeping bipartisan support to the funding one day after the House passed the bill, so that it could be quickly sent to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

19:05 GMT – WHO Director General: ‘This is not a drill’

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the organisation is concerned that the “level of political commitment” in some countries do not “match the level of the threat we all face”. 

On Twitter, he wrote: “This is not a drill. Not a time to give up. Not a time for excuses.”

09:06 GMT – Switzerland reports first death

A 74-year-old woman in western Switzerland has died after contracting the new coronavirus, the country’s first death, regional police said.

The woman had been hospitalised in the canton of Vaud since Tuesday, police said. She was a high-risk patient suffering from chronic disease, authorities said.

07:43 GMT – Bosnia and Herzegovina reports first two cases

Bosnia and Herzegovina has reported its first two cases of coronavirus, confirmed by the health ministry of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity. 

Alen Seranic, the regional health minister said at a press conference that a middle-aged man, who returned to Bosnia a month ago from Italy where he works, has been infected with coronavirus as well as his child.

The man was confirmed earlier this week as having coronavirus. He’s currently in stable condition and is being kept in isolation in hospital in the city of Banja Luka.

Health authorities will test school children who have had contact with the infected child, as well as all other members of the infected family, he said. The school will be closed for the next couple of days.

07:36 GMT – Chinese President Xi’s visit delayed

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan has been postponed because as countries have agreed to prioritise the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, Japan’s top government spokesman said.

The Asian neighbours agreed that a new itinerary would be arranged at a better time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Suga said the delay in Xi’s visit, which had been originally planned for early April, would not affect Japan-China relations.

06:42 GMT – Greece reports tenth case, shuts schools in three areas

Greece reported its tenth case of coronavirus. The person had recently returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt, health authorities said.

Greece on Wednesday ordered schools to be closed and banned public gatherings in three districts in western Greece from Thursday as a precaution after a person from the region tested positive for coronavirus.

The ban was in effect for 48 hours and subject to review, authorities said.

06:41 GMT – Italy may raise support spending to five billion euros

Italy’s government is likely to increase to five billion euros ($5.57bn) the value of measures to help the economy withstand the largest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli said.

“It is likely that the government will reach [five billion euros]” Castelli said in an interview with daily Il Messaggero, adding that she thought it was “necessary to raise the bar as much as possible”.

Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri has promised tax breaks and other measures for the affected sectors worth 3.6 billion euros.

A government source told Reuters on Wednesday this may be raised to 4.5 billion, or 0.25 percent of GDP.

06:35 GMT – UAE advises against travel abroad

The United Arab Emirates has urged citizens and other residents to avoid travelling abroad because of concerns over a coronavirus, state news agency WAM said.

Authorities in the Gulf state may order medical checks on returning travellers and ask them to stay in isolation at home, pending the outcome, WAM said, citing a health ministry statement.

The UAE, which has closed schools and educational institutions for four weeks, said students and education workers would have to spend two weeks in home isolation on returning to the country.

06:30 GMT – IMF: Virus will slow global economic growth this year

The spread of the coronavirus will hold 2020 global output gains to their slowest pace since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday.

The IMF now expects 2020 world growth to be below the 2.9 percent rate for 2019 and revised forecasts will be issued in the coming weeks.

The IMF is making available $50bn in emergency funding to help poor and middle-income countries with weak health systems respond to the epidemic, Georgieva said after a call with the IMF’s steering committee.

Read more here.

05:40 GMT – More people evacuated from Hong Kong

Hong Kong is evacuating more of its people from Wuhan where the coronavirus originated late last year.

The first group of evacuees arrived on Wednesday, after going through health checks before boarding. They will spend 14 days in quarantine.

05:20 GMT – Thailand reports four more cases

Thailand has diagnosed four more cases of coronavirus; an Italian man who arrived in the country on March 1, a Thai man who returned from Italy, a Chinese man who was in transit from Iran to China and was found to have the virus during screening. and a Thai student who had come back from Iran.

The country now has 47 confirmed cases. 

04:35 GMT – Japan’s Anges to work on vaccine with Osaka University

Reuters is reporting that Japanese biopharmaceutical firm Anges will work with Osaka University on developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Anges says it will be a ‘preventative DNA vaccine’, according to Reuters, which also cites a professor at Osaka University saying such vaccines could be mass produced in a short period of time.

Researchers around the world have been working to develop effective treatments and vaccines since Chinese scientists first isolated the coronavirus genome back in January.

04:20 GMT – China, Hong Kong cautiously getting back to work 

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan has been giving us an update from Hong Kong where she says there are now more people on the street, and more traffic than there have been in weeks.

China is also trying to get its people back to work after a prolonged shutdown to stop the virus from spreading.

The strict quarantines appear to be paying off in terms of lower numbers of daily confirmed cases, but there was a slight uptick in the data released on Thursday – 139 new cases, compared with 119 the day before – and the country has revised its counting methods a few times. 

“China is far from out of the woods,” Gopalan says. “It’s changed the way it tallies the numbers several times. At the moment, it does not include those who are asymptomatic – people who have the virus but are not showing symptoms.” 

03:52 GMT – UK airline Flybe collapses as coronavirus hits flights 

Britain’s biggest operator of domestic flights, Flybe, has announced that it is grounding all its flights following a declaration of bankruptcy, as the coronavirus epidemic takes toll on airline companies worldwide.

“All flights have been grounded and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect,” said the airline, which employs an estimated 2,000 people.

02:45 GMT – Olympics will go ahead: Minister Seiko Hashimoto 

Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said on Thursday the country was still preparing for the Summer Games, which are due to start in July.

“Cancellation or delay of the Games would be unacceptable for the athletes,” Hashimoto told the Upper House budget committee. “An environment where athletes can feel at ease and focus should be firmly prepared.”

Hashimoto was speaking as the western prefecture of Shiga reported its first coronavirus case – a man in his 60s – and the country’s total number of cases rose above 1,000.

02:15 GMT – Australia announces second death; more travel restrictions

Australia says a second person has died from the coronavirus; an elderly woman who was diagnosed with the illness after a worker at the nursing home where she lived was confirmed to have the virus.

Most of Australia’s 52 cases are people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined off Japan, but the country has also introduced travel restrictions with a number of countries.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said non-Australians coming from South Korea would not be allowed to enter the country, while people arriving from Italy would have to go through enhanced screening.

A ban on visitors from China and Iran was also being extended, he said.

02:05 GMT – South Korea cases continue to climb

South Korea has just given its first update of the day on the coronavirus situation there. It’s confirmed 438 new cases taking total infections to 5,766.

The Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention also said three more people died from the virus, bringing the total to 35.

The US has also reported two more cases among the 28,500 soldiers stationed in the country, bringing the total to six.

01:55 GMT – Watchdog tells Qantas to improve cleaning standards

Australia’s national carrier has been told to spruce up its cleaning to ensure passengers are better protected from the coronavirus.

The Sydney Morning Herald says Safework NSW issued a notice to the airline on February 26 warning of an “inadequate system of work used to clean planes that may have transported passengers with an infectious disease.” 

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